Counseling Licensing Requirements in Maine

The Maine Board of Counseling Professionals lists unique requirements for professional counselors. The state offers two types of counseling licensure: licensed professional counselor (LPC) and licensed clinical professional counselor (LCPC).

The curricular and supervision requirements for LCPCs amounts to more than for LPCs. One does not, however, need to earn their LPC to become an LCPC. Instead, license seekers practice under a conditional license before attaining full licensure at either level.

Counseling Careers in Maine

Licensed counselors enjoy excellent career prospects. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment for substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors should grow by 23% through 2026, more than three times the rate of growth for all other occupations. The BLS also projects that employment for marriage and family therapists will grow by 23% and that employment for psychologists will grow by 14% during that same time period. Clearly, a career in counseling can provide exceptional job security in addition to the deep personal fulfillment.

  • Educational, Guidance, School, and Vocational Counselors: Educational counselors help their clients develop the social, academic, and professional skills needed to succeed in school and their careers. They often work for educational and nonprofit institutions, creating and implementing plans catered to their clients' unique strengths and needs.
  • Marriage and Family Therapists: Marriage and family therapists help individuals, couples, and families coping with problems. They provide counseling and referral services within a one-on-one or small-group setting. Many of these therapists work in private practice.
  • Rehabilitation Counselors: Rehabilitation counselors assist those with physical, mental, emotional, or developmental disabilities live as independently as possible. They often work at community rehabilitation centers or for social service agencies.
  • Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors: Counselors working in this area offer support to individuals struggling with various issues, including alcoholism, drug addiction, eating disorders, depression, anxiety, or grief. They often specialize in a particular area to better serve their clients.
  • Counselors, All Other: Licensed counselors can serve in many different fields. They may counsel individuals facing major changes or help former inmates transition back into society. Fundamentally, licensed counselors use their expertise in mental andbehavioral health to serve those in need.
Occupation Average Salary in Maine
Educational, Guidance, School, and Vocational Counselors $50,410

Source: BLS

Other Professionals Who Can Be Licensed as Counselors

The board notes that professionals with nontraditional training -- for example, art therapists or dance therapists -- can earn licensure as counselors if they meet the same standards. You may earn licensure as an LPC or LCPC depending on your professional and educational credentials.

Education Requirements for Counselors

Licensed Professional Counselor

Those pursuing licensure as a Licensed Professional Counselor need to complete a CACREP or CORE, 48-credit graduate program that fulfills curricular requirements.

A doctoral-level clinical or counseling psychology program also qualifies on the condition that they hold accreditation from the American Psychological Association or the Canadian Psychological Association. Read more about selecting a master's in counseling program here. Other programs in counseling and related fields qualify if they include coursework in the following ten content areas:

  • Social and cultural foundations
  • Human growth and development
  • Groups
  • Helping relationships
  • Measurement
  • Lifestyle and career development
  • Professional orientation
  • Research and evaluation
  • Practicum
  • Internship

License seekers need at least three semester hours in each of the first eight content areas. You may get partial credit for a class that includes some of the required content for a particular subject area. Your internship should amount to at least 600 hours.

If you completed a master's that required between 36 and 48 semester hours but did not include all the required components, you can take supplemental courses to help you meet board standards. (The board suggests that you discuss requirements with an advisor before enrolling).

If you don't meet the requirements for the practicum and internship, you may instead document 700 hours of supervised work experience (lawfully obtained).

Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor

In order to earn licensure as an LCPC, you need at least 60 semester hours of graduate coursework. If your mental health program did not hold CACREP-accreditation or your doctoral-level psychology program did not hold APA or CPA accreditation, you need to demonstrate coursework in all of the following:

  • Human growth and development
  • Helping relationships
  • Groups
  • Measurement
  • Research and evaluation
  • Diagnosis and treatment
  • Professional orientation
  • Social and cultural foundations
  • Practicum
  • Internship

In addition, you need a minimum of nine hours drawn from at least two of the following content areas:

  • Lifestyle and career development
  • Marriage and family counseling
  • Supervision
  • Human sexuality for counselors
  • Crisis intervention
  • Consultation
  • Addictive disorders
  • Treatment modalities

Your internship should comprise 900 hours, with at least 360 hours of direct patient contact. You should perform all of the duties of a clinical professional counselor. If your master's program required between 36 and 60 semester hours but did not meet the content requirements, you need take additional coursework.

If you did not complete an internship that meets the above requirements, you may document lawful supervised work experience. The board notes that most who fail to document these hours can enroll in an educational program to make them up.

Read more about selecting a master's in counseling program here.

Online Counseling Programs in Maine

Online counseling programs allow students to continue their education on their own schedule and from the comfort of their own home. They can provide you with the opportunity to earn a degree even if you need to balance other personal and professional obligations. In addition, online programs may cost less than residential programs since you typically do not need to pay for room and board or for fees associated with campus services.

In Maine, you can find online programs in counseling at a handful of institutions. For example, the University of Southern Maine offers an online master of science in clinical rehabilitation counseling. It also offers an online bachelor's in social and behavioral sciences which can prepare you for some entry-level roles. The University of New England features a completely online and asynchronous master of social work. Saint Joseph's College, a private Catholic institution, offers an online bachelor's in social work as well.

Many colleges and universities in the greater New England region also offer online programs in counseling, social work, and psychology. Make sure to fully research all of your options before deciding on a program, understanding the unique benefits and challenges that come with online education.

How Do You Become a Counselor in Maine?

Conditional licensure will require the following:

  • An application
  • A proposed supervision plan form
  • A disclosure statement
  • Three reference forms
  • Degree and internship verification
  • Examination request

The disclosure statement is a personal practice statement that also includes a statement of accountability and contact information for the complaint coordinator. You will find a sample disclosure statement in your application packet.

You need a criminal history check. The application costs $25, and the criminal history check costs $21. A conditional professional counseling license costs $200, and a full license costs $250. Fees should be made out to "Maine State Treasurer."

Click here to find all the applications and materials you need for licensure, certification, and registration in Maine.

When it comes time to upgrade from conditional to full licensure status, you need to fill out an application and disclosure form and pay the requisite fees. You also need an affidavit from your supervisor. Unless exempt, you need to show that you met continuing-education requirements during your conditional term. You may either mail application materials to the State of Maine Department of Professional & Financial Regulation, 35 State House Station, Augusta, Maine 04333 or hand deliver them to 76 Northern Avenue, Gardiner, Maine 04345.

If you want to check on the status of your application, you may do so here.

Licensing Fees

The Maine Board of Counseling Professionals Licensure (BCPL) requires counseling applicants to pay several different fees in order to receive their initial license or renew an existing license. Generally speaking, BCPL administers the same fees regardless of the type of counselor license you hope to receive. You must submit these fees with your initial application for licensure or your petition for renewal. If you fail to do so, the state may require additional late fees.

Request Type Fee
License Fee for Conditional Licensure $200
License Fee for Full Licensure $250
License Fee for Applicants Licensed in Another Jurisdiction $25
Application Fee $25
Criminal Background Check Fee $21
Biennial License Renewal Fee for Full Licensure $250
Biennial License Renewal Fee for Conditional licensure $200
Late Fee (for Licenses Renewed After Expiration Date) $50

Source: BCPL

Other Counseling Licenses

Maine licenses pastoral counselors who hold master of divinity or doctor of divinity degrees, master or doctor of pastoral counseling degrees, or similar programs as long as the programs meet board requirements. Maine no longer grants new licenses to registered counselors, but it does allow those who hold the credential to renew it.

The Licensing Exam

License seekers need to take the National Counselor Examination to obtain licensure at any level. To achieve full licensure as an LCPC, you need to take the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination. To get approval, you must submit an application to the Maine Board. The board sends you a registration form that you submit to the National Board for Certified Counselors along with a fee of $185. It takes the NBCC about four weeks from the time your fee clears to send you approval.

Once you get your approval, you need to either call the Applied Measurement Professionals (AMP) or visit the website to register. License seekers can take tests each month, Monday through Friday, during a two-week window. Maine harbors one AMP testing site in Portland. You may schedule at an AMP site in another state if you prefer.

Supervised Practice Requirement

Licensed Professional Counselor

License seekers need to complete 2,000 hours of supervised counseling practice with at least 1,000 hours of direct client contact. During this time, you need 67 hours of supervision, with approximately one hour of supervision per 30 hours of work experience. More than half (at least 34) of the supervision hours need to be individual. Up to 17 may go through live audio or video conferencing.

Your supervisor may serve as a board-approved professional counselor, pastoral counselor, marriage and family therapist, psychiatrist, psychologist, licensed clinical social worker, or certified social worker -- independent practice.

If you need to change supervisors during your supervision period, you should make a written request. Your current supervisor will need to fill out an evaluation.

Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor

License seekers need to complete at least 3,000 hours of supervised practice, which include diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders. At least 1,500 of your hours should focus on direct clinical care. Prospective license holders need 100 hours of supervision over the course of this supervised period, 50 of which much must involve individual supervision.

If you hold at least 600 hours of internship experience, but did not complete board requirements, you need to complete 4,000 hours of supervised practice -- with at least 150 hours of supervision. License seekers should complete one hour of supervision for every 27 hours of work experience.

If your supervisor works as a professional counselor, they should hold LCPC status. Supervision by other board-approved persons (including pastoral counselors and marriage and family therapists) is acceptable. License seekers typically spend two years completing experience requirements. You may renew your conditional license and take longer, but you cannot take more than six years without demonstrating hardship to the board.

Out of State Candidates - LPC Requirements

Those coming from another state do not necessarily need to start with conditional licensure. As a substitute, they can demonstrate that they hold similar qualifications, and that they boast five years of active practice. Those applying at the LCPC level who have not taken the NCE exam do not necessarily need to. Applicants need a copy of the licensing law of your state or jurisdiction in order to establish an equivalency of requirements.

As an out of state applicant, you also need license verification from all previous jurisdictions. If you completed training in another country, the World Education Services, Inc. or Center for Educational Documentation, Inc may review your credentials.

License Maintenance and Renewal

You must renew your counseling license biannually. As an LPC or LCPC, you must complete 55 contact hours of continuing education.

Continuing Education Opportunities for Counselors in Maine

  • Graduate Academic Courses: To earn continuing education credit, licensees can take graduate-level courses at any regionally accredited college or university. The institution can offer the courses online, but they must relate to the theory or practice of professional counseling. The state imposes no limit on the number of credits a licensee can receive in this manner.
  • Training Opportunities: Licensees can also earn continuing education credit by completing relevant seminars, workshops, conferences, formal distance or home-study programs, or employer-sponsored, in-service training. Licensees must submit an official transcript and proof of completion to the state board for approval. The state does not impose a limit on the number of credits earned in this manner.
  • Professional Writing: Licensees who author books or journal articles in the field may also receive continuing education credit. The date on which the publisher accepted the book or journal must fall within the continuing education qualifying period, and licensees can only earn a maximum of 20 hours of continuing education credit for their writing.

Resources for Counselors

  • Maine Behavioral Health Workforce Development Collaborative: MBHWDC offers continuing education trainings in areas like opiate abuse and post-traumatic stress disorder. It also provides resources on degree and certificate programs available in Maine.
  • Maine Mental Health Counselors Association: MEMHCA represents licensed counselors in Maine as the state branch of the American Mental Health Counselors Association. Through MEMHCA, members can access continuing education resources, receive updates on news and developments in the field, and attend an annual networking conference.
  • Maine Counseling Association: MCA serves as the state branch of the American Counseling Association. It established an ethical code of conduct for professionals working in Maine and hosts an annual conference and regional events. MCA offers discount membership fees to counseling students.
  • Maine School Counselor Association: MSCA represents school counselors and promotes professionalism and ethical practice within its field. It hosts a variety of professional development resources on its website and organizes an annual conference for its members.
  • Maine Department of Health and Human Services: DDHS, and more specifically the BCPL, issue licenses to professional counselors hoping to work in Maine. The agency also employs many counselors and provides data and best practices to help counselors combat issues like drug addiction.

Professional Organizations for Counselors

  • American Counseling Association: Founded in 1952, ACA is the largest professional association for counselors in the country. It advocates on behalf of its members, offers professional development and continuing-education opportunities online, and hosts an annual conference and numerous chapter events. Its website also features a job board and resources for new and aspiring counselors.
  • American School Counselor Association: ASCA supports school counselors as they work to ensure the academic and social success of students throughout the United States. It conducts and publishes research on issues facing school counselors and offers a wealth of professional development resources, including webinars and in-person workshops. It also provides detailed information on various professional roles within counseling.
  • American Mental Health Counselors Association: AMHCA specifically represents clinical mental health counselors or individuals with state authorization to diagnose and treat mental and behavioral issues. The association offers home-study continuing-education courses and maintains a career center. It also monitors and advocates on matters of mental health policy and organizes an annual conference.
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